Debleena is an entrepreneur and a storyteller based in Bangalore. After 15 years of wrestling with corporate gloves across companies of various sizes, she realized that she is not really hand-in-glove with the corporate ladder climb. Her fine sense of direction made her get lost multiple times in the corporate cubicle wilderness till she found a clearing that seemed oddly familiar. Always fascinated with words, numbers, and music, these days, she is trying to build a dirt-track through that clearing, as the co-founder of Kahaniyah, a company that uses storytelling to improve business and learning outcomes.

Tell us about your book?
I have published four short stories on Juggernaut, across genres – humor, crime, drama and satire.

  • The Real Deal is a story of losing and of finding – dreams, hope and a faint hint of love.
  • An Unfinished Construction is a story about a boy who has no business constructing dreams of his own.
  • Hide and Seek is a fantasy story based on the very real pains of parenting.

A Day in The Jungle is a totally crazy corporate satire. I mean, just read it, you will know what I am saying.

I find my stories wavering between the funny and the dark shades of life. Maybe because that’s where I find life to be the most visceral and searing.

Please tell us something about your early years and major influences on you. What inspires you still?
I had two dreams. 1. Librarian. 2. Archaeologist. Both still remain dreams.
In my dreams, I would never be a cape and mask adorned superhero. I would be a spade wielding archaeologist, staring intently at a recently dug-out site and screaming, “Doesn’t that pot look like it’s 1,000 years old! A new discovery!”
My library would always be full of the most interesting, unread books in my dreams. Books that I would dish out to my loving readers with a wise nod of my sleepy head. And if any non-readers dared to venture into my dream library, my hand would just slip slightly. War and Peace would just accidentally land on their heads.
I read too much. Read through parties as a child and read through meetings as an adult. Carried books to holidays instead of toothbrushes.
A rainy day, a cup of Darjeeling tea and a good book. That’s my idea of a perfect day. A good story is what continues to inspire me still.

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Frankly, I am still not sure I can call myself a writer. I mean, I got inspired by Anne Frank and wrote a diary during my rebel-without-a-cause teen phase. Then, I graduated to writing limericks during meetings, disguising them as copious notes. I analysed numbers to create excel sheets and tried to make my presentations look less boring by adding bad jokes. I made up crazy mystery-history stories for my daughter when she refused to sleep to my soothing lullabies. And I wrote horrible poetry for my husband as cheap birthday gifts.
Thankfully, I have too many kind people in my life. So, I kept writing. And if my story one day finds a place on someone’s bookshelf – digital, or real, and if they open it up on a rainy day, with or without that cup of tea, I would consider myself blessed. I write because I cannot stop writing.

What made you write this particular story?
Like any writers, I am influenced by my memories and shaped by my experiences. I love observing people and imagining their lives. A bit like a scavenger actually. Always digging for ideas with my imaginary spade. Ideas that I can store in my imaginary library.
Sometimes, those ideas become words that string together to build a story. So far, I have sprinkled quite a few non-fiction articles, short stories, and a children’s’ mystery book (introducing them to ancient historical places) around the Internet. As of now, I just completed writing my first full-length crime novel and am wondering whether I can send the rejection emails straight to my spam mail.

Did you face any challenge while writing this piece?
My challenge is to stop reading and dreaming long enough to write my own story. Stop taking tea-breaks so frequently that my writing spurts look like the occasional tea break. Stop sprouting best opening lines from books and create a few of my own.
Honestly though, my only hope is that I can keep writing stories that I feel strongly about. And I know it’s not a short road. I am enjoying the journey and the struggle that’s always just lurking behind each new corner.

Can you suggest some books for our readers that you think are must reads?
That could be an essay, given the way I read. I would love to stick to the golden rule of 3 recommendations. But I can’t. So, I’ll will share names of a few books I can read on any day:

  • A book about writing: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  • A crime story that still haunts me: Chiriyakhana by Saradindu Bandopadhyay
  • A book that made me cry: Lust for Life by Irving Stone
  • A book that I always go back to: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • An autobiography I loved reading: Agatha Christie’s autobiography. Not just because I devoured every story she wrote but because her life itself was a lesson in living.

A book that spells fantasy: Haroun and The Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
I could just go on. The question is basically unfair for a bookaholic.

What kind of books inspire you?
Books that make me laugh and make me cry and then make me blink back at the real world unwillingly when the last page turns. Those are books that inspire me. A part of them stay with me, travel with me, and grow in the empty spaces where thoughts get formed.

How was your experience with the Juggernaut Writing Platform?
I love how Juggernaut has democratized the way writers can publish and get reader feedback. Without a traditional background in literature, I find this feedback very important. It helps me understand my own voice and helps keep the faith alive, to write another day.

You can read Debleena’s story, Hide and Seek, here.


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